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Hank, My Sushi Date

January 4th 1998

Certain streets in Berkeley are quite hard to maneuver when you're not sure where you're going. I had just picked up Sanchez. He knew where we were going, but he had brought Hank along before I picked him up. (Hank is a code name for heroine.) We were in this directional circle. Sanchez would say "OK, turn left here OK veer straight'ish right now…….." Long pause. "Hey….you were suppose to turn right, why didn't you turn right? Hey! Look Out!" He grabbed the wheel just as we were almost knocked over by an island in the middle of the road. I was in stimulus overload.

I finally caught him mid-nod, "Sanchez! Where is the restaurant?" He would take direct questions and finally told me where Kiralla, god of sushi, was. I drove there and parked.

As I had been warned, it was packed. We went in and Sanchez wrote his name down on the list. The place was packed. Standing room only in the waiting area.

When I first picked him up he appeared normal. But then he was standing up and smoking a cigarette, at the same time. And I had seen him hanked many times before.

A woman took the sign in sheet from Sanchez. He noticed that she was there before us. He began to explain the situation to her;

"Hey, why don't you go ahead of us, when they say Sanchez, party of two, you two go, and when they say your name, we'll go."

She wasn't buying it. "What?"

"When they call Sanchez, party of two, you can have our table!"

"What? Why?"

"Because you were here before us and I don't want to cheat you." Very friendly smile on Sanchez' face.

"But we were here before you."

"Yeah, that's why I was going to let you have our table." Still smiling.

"I was just checking the box for sushi bar. We're way up the list." They disappear.

"Oh, OK, thanks."

"Hey Sanchez, can we get some sake while we wait?"

"Yaassszz, that's what I was doing." He wandered off. Five minutes later he was back with sake and two waiting chairs opened up in front of us. We sat and poored to drinks.

I realized that if I kept talking Sanchez would appear to be awake.

"Hey Sanchez, what's wrong with your car?"

"Oh…" His eyes open. "The hootzle fell out of the brake lining. It makes a humpa bumpa sound."

"All the time? Or only while applying the breaks?"

"Humpa bumpa bumpa. When your turning with the brakes on." Pause. "Tom, if they call out Sanchez, party of two, that's us."

"Got it. If they call out your name, Sanchez, then that's us. OK, I'll listen for that. Sanchez, got it. OK"

I was feeling a little, behind, so I quickly finished the bottle of sake.

"Hey, were did you get the sake?"

"What? Oh, from any of the waitresses. Just apologize for wasting their time before you ask for it

I got another bottle of sake and sat down. Sanchez was in a full nod and I noticed he hadn't finished his last one. There was now a cute girl sitting next to me. Her watch has the toy story alien on it.

"Cool watch."

"It's not just a watch, I work there."

"At Pixar? Cool. I like Steve, I think he's cool."

"Yeah, I do too, I work for him."

Just as her date walks in, they call for Sanchez, party of two.

We are seated at the sushi bar and order really intense stuff. And it is good.

Halfway through the meal a woman is seated next to me and we begin to talk. She is a yoga teacher and had just been to the SYDA foundation. She was discussing past life regressions. It was then that she noticed Sanchez nodding in his unagi.

"Your friend, he's uh, falling a sleep."

"Oh I hope so, we have a bet, he said he wouldn't."

"What? A bet?"

"Yeah, on new years eve he said he was going to give up sleeping as his new years resolution. I bet him he couldn't stay awake a week."

"Has he made it so far?"

"Yeah, four days this fuckers been awake! I don't think he'll last another fifteen minutes, easiest twenty bucks I ever made."

"Hey, not so fast…I'm not a sleep!" Sanchez turned toward us and opened his eyes. "I didn't lose no bet! Well, not yet."

A little later I excused myself and went to the bathroom. After I returned, we paid our bill. As I was putting on my jacket I turned to the yoga woman.

"Aside from our similar paths, I feel we have a connection and I was wondering if I could see you again."

I wasn't that attracted to her, but she had a nice figure and I knew yoga women could do wild stuff.

"I would have probably answered differently a week ago, but two days ago I fell in love in Boston. Sorry."

"Not a problem, just thought I'd ask. Good bye."

We walked out to the car and got in.

"Dude, when you went to the bathroom that chick was saying your friend is trippy. Did you ask her out?"

"Yeah I did, too much sake I guess."

I dropped him off. He waved. That was the last time I saw him. 


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